President Lazarus Chakwera on Thursday returned from Tanzania for an official visit but quickly defended himself from accusations that that he was putting lives of Malawians at risk for defying Coronavirus (Covid-19) guidelines when he removed his face masks during the tour to the neighbouring country.
Throughout his two-days tour, Chakwera did not put on his mask but immediately had it when he landed in Malawi soil.
Chakwera told journalists on arrival at Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) in Lilongwe, that he had to balance Malawi’s tradition and diplomacy as Tanzania’a narrative is that there is no Covid-19 in that country.
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli declared the country “coronavirus-free” thanks to prayers by citizens and Tanzanians do not wear face masks and gloves.
Chakwera said: “In terms of what Tanzania has experienced, the tradition is not to wear masks because they believe the pandemic is over so it is a question of trying to balance what our tradition is and what our diplomatic preference will be in order to establish a true relationship based on trust.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern over Tanzania’s strategy on Covid-19.
Magufuli has repeatedly said the health crisis has been exaggerated and urged people to attend services in churches and mosques, saying that prayers “can vanquish” the virus.
The Tanzanian President has also ridiculed the strict measures neighbouring countries have imposed to fight the pandemic.
But Chakwera said he remains committed to fight against the virus pandemic, saying all members of the Malawi delegation had medical certificates as evidence that they were Covid-19 free.
University of Malawi’s Chancellor College political science and public administration lecturer Professor Happy Kayuni said indeed Chakwera found himself in a “delicate situation.”
Kayuni said the “safest route” would have been for Chakwera to convince Magufuli that he needed to wear a mask because he was coming from a country which has Covid-19 hence he did not want to pose a threat to him.
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